GLOBAL: Fast-growing companies are investing more in event marketing, either sponsoring or hosting events themselves, according to a new study that highlights the value of this channel in a digital age and the need to develop better ROI measurement.

Splash, a business selling end-to-end event marketing software, partnered with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, to survey more than 700 business executives around the world for its report titled The Event Marketing Evolution: An Era of Data, Technology, and Revenue Impact.

This found that companies that are growing fastest (defined as revenue growing 30% or more over the past two years) had increased their event activity the most.

And more than half (52%) of survey respondents said that event marketing drives more business value than other marketing channels; just 8% said it drives less.

Such activity is more obvious in the B2B space, which allocated around 29% of marketing budgets to events, compared to 19% for B2C businesses. But for both, the physical element is crucial, generating face-to face meetings, driving footfall in stores and delivering a better customer experience.

A particular challenge for marketers, however, has been demonstrating the ROI of this investment – just 23% of respondents were able to track ROI; 55% couldn’t and the rest didn’t know.

Consequently, most companies end up focused on top-of-the-sales-funnel activities; the top four event metrics tracked by survey respondents were: the number of people who attend an event; the number of qualified sales leads generated by the event; brand awareness, and social press mentions.

Ed Keller, chief marketing officer at management consulting firm Navigant, suggested marketers are under pressure to invest in digital marketing channels that are able to quantify a return, even if these are not necessarily better than events.

His approach, he explained, is to track every single attendee, and their company, and what they purchase from Navigant over the following 12 to 24 months, and then estimate how likely Navigant would have been to win that project if it hadn’t held the event.

“We can demonstrate that we generate revenue ten times our investment, so we know that event is very profitable, at least on its face,” he stated.

“And we trumpet that data point, and hope people will conclude, by implication, that some of our smaller events that we don’t measure as closely also have a strong ROI.”

Splash believes that a new generation of event marketing technology will assist in tracking both sales and branding/event metrics.

Sourced from Splash; additional content by WARC staff